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What Does Fishing for Rebar Have to Do with Building a More Sustainable Internet?

Mike Mattera

Written by

Mike Mattera

March 07, 2022

In the photo, you see yours truly (in my favorite pair of waders) holding rebar I dug out of the Neponset river during my Danny Lewin Community Care Day activity at the 2021 Neponset River clean-up in Canton, Massachusetts. 

Danny Lewin Community Care Days (DLCCDs) are a celebration of our late co-founder Danny Lewin’s generous spirit and his tenacious appetites for collaboration, innovation, and (especially) giving back to our global community. DLCCDs bring to life our values and empower all Akamai employees to volunteer in the communities where we work, operate, and live.

 

Any day I get to wear my waders is a good day, especially when serving my local community. Any day I get to wear my waders is a good day, especially when serving my local community.

Putting our mission and purpose to work

These events speak to our purpose: to make life better for billions of people, billions of times per day. This purpose permeates our culture and underscores our company values across all our stakeholder groups. 

Don't get me wrong: I know trenching rebar out of the Neponset River isn't making life better for billions of people, billions of times per day. It does, however, highlight the culture and ethos with which we operate every part of our business, prioritizing methods that make an impactful and beneficial change in the places around us. 

Important to mitigate environmental impacts

This ethos can be seen in our sustainability program, too. We know that it's now more important than ever to lessen and mitigate environmental impacts, especially since the thousands of data centers (many as big as football fields) behind the modern internet are estimated to account for approximately 1% of global electricity demand.

Our electricity usage highlights a less-discussed impact of the internet: the environmental one. It is estimated that by 2025, up to one-fifth of the world's electricity will be needed to power information communications technology, composing up to 5.5% of the world's carbon emissions. That's more than most countries' total emissions, excluding China, India, and the United States.

Five goals to reduce and mitigate environmental effects

We've built our sustainability program to help us live our values and usher in an emissions-free Akamai Intelligent Edge Platform powered by 100% renewable energy by 2030. To fulfill that commitment, we are focusing on achieving five goals to reduce and mitigate our effects on the environment by 2030. They are:

  1. 100% renewably sourced energy 

  2. A 50% more energy-efficient platform

  3. 100% platform emissions mitigation

  4. Responsible supply chain management 

  5. Global expansion of 100% e-waste recycling

Our goals are ambitious because our platform is truly everywhere with a mix of large, small, and even extended reach locations. Our 2030 environmental endeavors have even set the stage for us to pledge our support for Business Ambition for 1.5°C under the Science Based Targets initiative. When we assembled our 2030 environmental goals, we had an objective of inspiring innovation and building a more environmentally friendly internet to bring our purpose to life and make life better for billions of people, billions of times per day.

Today, I am thrilled to announce the release of our 2021 sustainability report to give our shareholders, customers, and employees insight into how we are tackling one of the biggest challenges we face as a global community. Here’s a sneak peek at our progress on each of these goals.

 

100% renewably sourced energy 

In 2021, the Akamai Intelligent Edge Platform used 746,610 megawatt hours (MWh) of energy, which is enough energy to power approximately 63,700 homes or more than 64,370,000,000 smartphones. Of those MWh, we used 371,400 MWh of green energy, approximately 20% of which was supported by Akamai renewable power project investments.

 

In 2021, together with MilliporeSigma, Synopsys, and Uber, Akamai signed a virtual power purchase agreement with Enel Green Power for the energy produced by a 111 MW portion of the Azure Sky wind project in northern Texas. Together, we leveraged our collective buying power to serve as an anchor tenant for the project, demonstrating the benefits of collaboration among businesses with smaller and more distributed energy needs.

50% more energy-efficient platform

As of 2021, our network uses 1.70 MWh per Gbps of capacity. Our 2021 efficiencies have resulted in our being approximately 28% more efficient than 2020, despite capacity increases of 60% since the end of 2020. As a result, even with continued platform growth, we've been able to reduce our Scope 2 emissions output by 47% in 2021.

100% platform emissions mitigation

Our efficiency program paired with our renewable energy program means that we are on track to meet our net-zero emissions goal by 2030. But, of course, a critical part of ushering in a net-zero edge is to decouple capacity from energy needs. We've managed to do this with hardware and software efficiencies. You can read about it in more depth in the report itself. 

 

In fact, in 2021, our Scope 2 emissions are at an all-time low of 104,000 metric tons globally. To put this in perspective, this is like avoiding approximately 283,900,000 miles driven by one passenger car or not burning approximately 12,700,000 gallons of gas in a single year.

 

Responsible supply chain management 

In 2021, we evolved our supply chain program and launched a Responsible Supply Chain Program (RSCP) to realize our supply chain goals, especially with environmental sustainability and our value chain. 

The Akamai RSCP helps build a supply chain focused on strong, transparent, and trusted supplier partnerships critical to improving business competitiveness. We believe our programming will help mitigate supply chain risks, create diverse representation opportunities, protect our stakeholders, and inspire better business. 

Global expansion of 100% e-waste recycling

Today, we have met our goal of recycling 100% of our e-waste. We ship all our e-waste — including servers worldwide — to e-Stewards–certified facilities for appropriate processing. This allows us to ensure the highest standards for the security of customer data, the effective downstream management of all toxic materials, and legal and responsible exporting.

Where do we go from here?

There will be much for Akamai to do over the next 8+ years to meet our shared sustainability goals, and I, for one, am confident it will not be easy. However, our intentions are clear; we are not in the business of just checking the box for making public claims. At Akamai, we have our sights set high and will continue to look for ways to meet our goals with meaning and impact, and with an approach that will have a long-lasting and positive effect on the internet industry and our planet. 

We will ensure that our methods of getting our goals over the finish line will continue to be aligned with our purpose, to make experiences better for billions of people, billions of times a day.

Have questions, comments, or want to chat?

Reach out to sustainability@akamai.com. We'd love to hear from you.

 



Mike Mattera

Written by

Mike Mattera

March 07, 2022